- KILMONIVAIG, or Kilmanivaig, a parish, in the county of Inverness, 10 miles (N. N. E.) from Fort-William; containing 2791 inhabitants. This place is situated towards the western extremity of the county, in the district of Lochaber, and was the territory of Bancho, thane of Lochaber, and ancestor of the royal house of Stuart. That chief, as well as other thanes of Lochaber, is supposed to have occupied either the castle of Inverlochy, now in ruins, or a more ancient structure standing on the site; and their fortress was the most conspicuous feature in the once thriving burgh of Inverlochy, which has been termed by some of the old historians "the emporium of the west of Scotland." The castle is traditionally reported to have been originally a royal residence; and it is said that the celebrated league between Charlemagne, and Achaius, king of the Scots, was signed here about the end of the eighth century. Near this spot, a fierce encounter took place in 1645, between Montrose and Argyll; and near Keppoch, also in the parish, is a place called Mulray, the scene of the last feudal battle which was fought in Scotland by hostile clans, when, after a sanguinary engagement between the Macintoshes and the Mc Ronalds, the former were completely routed, and their chief taken prisoner. Kilmonivaig, and part of the adjacent country, have been denominated "the cradle of the rebellion" in 1745. The Pretender, in that year, erected his standard in this dreary and mountainous district, and was joined by the famous Cameron, of Locheil; and the first act of rebellion was an attack of the royal troops by the Macdonalds of Keppoch. After the suppression of the rebellion, Prince Charles Edward availed himself of the secluded glens of this district as a convenient refuge.The parish is divided into the two districts of Lochaber and Glengarry. It was once united to Kilmalie, the two together being called the parish of Lochaber; but they were separated, by the authority of the Church courts, about the beginning of the eighteenth century. It is said to be the most wild and mountainous district in the kingdom, measuring in length, from south to north, about sixty miles, and twenty miles at its greatest breadth, and comprising 300,000 acres, of which a small portion is under natural wood and plantations, a much smaller part under tillage, and the remainder natural pasture. Glenspean, forming the chief part of the parish, is bounded on the south by Ben-Nevis, and its subordinate range, which stretches towards the east, and on the north by a series of elevations which, though lofty, reach a far less altitude than those on the opposite boundary. It commences near Ben-Nevis, and contracts its width gradually towards the middle until, a little above Keppoch, its whole breadth is occupied by the rapid stream of the Spean, a river issuing from Loch Laggan, and augmented by the Treig, from the south-west, and several other tributaries. After this, the glen expands again, and extends to the west end of Loch Laggan. It is joined near the centre by Glenroy; and in the parish is also a part of the great Caledonian glen, extending from the west end of Loch Lochy to the east end of Loch Oich, a distance of nearly fifteen miles, between which two lakes a portion of the Caledonian canal is cut. The Spean, with most of the rapid mountain streams, celebrated for their fine trout, empties itself into the river Lochy, which runs into Loch Eil, a branch of the Atlantic, at Fort-William.The soil in some places is excellent, especially in Glenspean; but very little has been done in the way of husbandry, the hills and glens, affording superior pasture, being appropriated to sheep and black-cattle, which engross the chief attention. Upwards of 100,000 sheep are reared in the parish every year. Two of the sheepfarms exceed 100 square miles in extent; and the stock reared supplies large quantities of valuable wool, purchased by staplers from England, Glasgow, and Aberdeen. Very few agricultural improvements have been attempted; but the large number of acres of superior land in Glenspean alone, amounting to above 40,000, and capable of the highest cultivation, offer a temptation to wealthy proprietors, and might make an ample return for an outlay of capital. The rateable annual value of the parish is £12,745. The substrata consist chiefly of gneiss and mica-slate, and occasionally are seen enormous masses of protruding granite and of compact felspar rocks. A plumbago-mine exists in Glengarry, but it is not in operation. The only mansion of importance is Glengarry House, the seat of Lord Ward, beautifully situated on the margin of Loch Oich, and erected shortly after the demolition of the ancient castle of the same name by the order of the Duke of Cumberland. The roads to Inverness and Edinburgh pass through the parish; and at High-Bridge is a fine bridge of three arches over the Spean, built by General Wade. The chief traffic consists in sheep, black-cattle, and wool, mostly disposed of at the southern markets and in England; and there are salmon-fishings on the Garry, on Loch Oich, and on the Lochy river. There are five annual fairs for the sale of black-cattle and sheep, or for general business, respectively held in June (two), September, October, and November.The parish is in the presbytery of Abertarff and synod of Glenelg, and in the patronage of the Marquess of Huntly: the minister's stipend is £289, with an allowance of £70 per annum in lieu of manse and glebe. The church is a very plain edifice, built about the year 1814. There are two missionaries in connexion with the Establishment, supported by the Royal Bounty; one officiates in the district of Brae Lochaber, and in a district of the parish of Kilmalie, alternately, and the other at three preaching stations in the district of Glengarry. There is a chapel at Brae Lochaber for Roman Catholics, who make about half of the population of the parish. The parochial school affords instruction in the usual branches; the master has a salary of £34, with £20 fees. There is also an Assembly's school at Bunroy, and a Society's school at Invergarry. The antiquities comprise the ruin of Inverlochy Castle, and a vitrified fort; and the parallel roads of Glenroy are highly celebrated, and have exercised the ingenuity of numerous antiquaries in the attempt to account for their formation. They are situated in the glen called Glenroy, a tract eleven miles in length and one in breadth, skirted with tolerably steep banks, on each of which are the terraces or roads, three in number, composed of gravel and clay. The roads are quite level, and exactly parallel with each other, varying from sixty to seventy feet in breadth, and accommodating themselves, throughout the whole extent of the glen, to the curvatures and windings of the mountains on each side. Imperfect terraces of a similar kind have been traced in some of the neighbouring glens; and the prevailing opinion with regard to their origin is, that the respective roads are deposits from the adjacent heights, brought down at three different periods, when the valley was a lake. It is thought that the loose materials carried down by floods met with a check when they reached the waters, and thus formed the highest road; that the lake afterwards was partially drained, and allowed of the formation of the second road; and that the third was subsequently made, in a similar manner. Ian Lom, the Jacobite Gaelic poet, well known in the era of the rebellion, resided in the parish.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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